Avengers: Endgame — Why China is a significant market for Marvel film to unseat Avatar's all-time record
Set for a five-day opening weekend, Avengers: Endgame is expected to pull in upwards of $900 million worldwide, and some analysts are positive about the $1 billion global opening weekend.
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With the gargantuan expectations surrounding the release of the much-anticipated Hollywood tentpole, Avengers: Endgame increasing by the minute, we analyse how China, the world's second largest movie market, would play a significant role in the film unseating the long-standing record of James Cameron's mega blockbuster Avatar ($2.788 billion) to become the top grossing movie in the global pantheon. Avengers: Endgame lands in China today on 24 April, two days before the domestic release in North America.
Currently, Avengers: Infinity War ($2.048 billion) is the fourth highest grossing film globally, behind such films as Avatar, Titanic ($2.187 billion) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($2.068 billion). While Hollywood trade experts are quite optimistic about Endgame dethroning Titanic and Star Wars: The Force Awakens to take the second spot, the theatrical ticket sales in the Middle Kingdom will make or break the long elusive record held by Avatar, which remains atop the global box office chart of the past 10 years.
Infinity War, the 21st film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), is currently the third top grossing import film in China, with earnings over $359.5 million and the 11th highest collecting film ever. The Fate of the Furious ($392.8 million) and Furious 8 ($390.9 million) hold the first and second positions in the China box office chart for foreign films. The box office tracking in the PRC clearly indicates that Endgame will shatter the records of The Fate of the Furious and Furious 8 positively this time unless the movie faces extremely heavy backlash from critics and audiences alike.
Will Avengers: Endgame become the first import film ever to breach past the 3 billion mark in local currency? The unprecedented pre-sale of tickets, which opened on 12 April, in mainland China have already made heads turn in Hollywood. According to Maoyan, China's popular movie ticketing and box office measurement platform, Endgame has sold a mind-boggling 550 million yuan ($82 million) in advance tickets sale until 22 April with more than 1.8 million users choosing the 'Want to See' section.
To simplify the pre-sale math in China, Endgame is the only film ever in the history of the Asian nation to sell 1 million tickets in just six hours. Endgame earned in one hour of pre-sale what Infinity War managed to do in 24 hours. At the end of the first three hours, Endgame surpassed the numbers of the week-long pre-sale figures of Infinity War in China. With the Middle Kingdom set for a five-day opening weekend, Endgame is expected to pull in upwards of $900 million worldwide, and some analysts are positive about the $1 billion global opening weekend.
Infinity War hauled in nearly 26 percent of the cumulative foreign box office receipts ($1.369 billion) from the Chinese mainland. Captain Marvel, the latest MCU release, earned close to 22 percent of the overseas sales from China. While Ant-Man and The Wasp garnered 28 percent of the foreign revenue from the Middle Kingdom, Black Panther took home earnings of 16.2 percent of its overseas ticket sales from the PRC. This evidently substantiates the demand for Marvel movies in China and its ever-increasing fan base. The 21 films from the MCU franchise in mainland China have together contributed nearly $2.5 billion earnings to their global revenue of $18.6 billion.
Meanwhile, there is a lot of hue and cry among audiences on social media platforms in China because of the price gouging, especially for the opening day tickets. China Film Bureau has promptly intervened and has issued notices to theatres which inflate ticket price by hiking the surcharge fee. Now, theaters who charge more than 10 percent surcharge of the ticket fee will not be able to screen the movie, according to Film Bureau. Reports in Chinese media suggest that tickets are selling like hot cakes for the midnight premiere shows in the range of 400 yuan (Rs 4,155) to 1000 yuan (Rs 10,389), especially for the IMAX screenings.
The top-billed cast and crew of the film, including directors Anthony and Joe Russo, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner and Paul Rudd participated in a grand event held at Shanghai Oriental Sports Center on 18 April and interacted with over 8,500 fans. Reiterating the importance of Marvel's massive fan base in China, Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, said, "This is not just the biggest Marvel Cinematic Universe fan event in the history of China. This is the biggest MCU fan event in the history of the world. Thank you."
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